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This report is taken from PN Review 45, Volume 12 Number 1, September - October 1985.

Austrian Notes Michael Hulse
23 April sees the seventieth birthday of the Viennese poet Christine Busta. Though in a writing life that has spanned the entire post-war period she has received her ample share of awards (in 1954 the Georg Trakl Prize, in 1963 Meersburg's Droste Prize, in 1969 the first-rank Austrian National Prize for Poetry, and in 1981 the Charles Péguy Prize, among many others), Busta has never been as feted by the critics as her compatriot Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-73), whose international reputation is the solider. Nor has the critical reception, which likes to couple Busta with the Carinthian poet Christine Lavant, found her as persuasive a lyrical presence as Lavant. Christine Lavant (1915-73) shared a birth-year, poverty, and a strongly religious cast of imagination with Busta, but had as well a tartly robust edge to her work, a presence of disquiet and even of menace, which contasts sharply with what can at times seem too sentimental a piety in Busta. Nonetheless, the name of Christine Busta is regularly and rightly linked with the names of Bachmann and Lavant as the third of those remarkable women poets who have dominated post-war Austrian poetry. A case can be made out for viewing her as the most considerable religious poet now writing in Europe, and her unpretentious clarity and humility become poetic as well as human virtues through their translation into cadences and images of simple beauty.

Christine Busta's début was made in 1950 with a modest collection of thirteen poems, Jahr um Jahr ...


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